Linn County Public Health has seen a significant increase in reported cases of pertussis, also known as whooping cough. The number of cases has more than doubled in the past week, bringing the total number of cases in Linn County this year to approximately 25.
Health officials are concerned because of the low level of protection among very young children in Iowa. Young children and pregnant women are particularly at risk of developing complications and requiring hospitalization as a result of whooping cough. Although deaths are rare, they do occur, especially in infants less than one year of age.
The disease is typically milder in adults and children 7 years and older.
Whooping cough starts with symptoms similar to a common cold. Individuals of all ages can be affected. The disease is very contagious and can easily be spread through the air from a sick person during talking, sneezing or coughing. Children suffering from whooping cough often develop coughing fits, especially at night, giving a high-pitched “whoop” sound, a sign that they are struggling to breathe between coughs.
Children should have received the basic Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (DTaP) immunization series (4 doses) through their family medical provider by 15 months of age. They also receive an additional dose of DTaP before they start school. For adults and children over 11 years of age, a pertussis booster is recommended. The booster can be received at a medical provider’s office and is combined with the Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccinations (Tdap).
Anyone suspected of having whooping cough or who is exposed to a person with the disease should be seen by their physician immediately.
Individuals who are prescribed and start taking an antibiotic regimen and have symptoms of whooping cough should not return to school, work, or daycare for five days.
Individuals who have been exposed and are not showing symptoms may also be prescribed an antibiotic regimen; these individuals can return to school, work, or day care as soon as they begin taking the antibiotics, or as work, school or center policy directs.
Rest and plenty of fluids will assist the body in recovering from the illness.For more information please refer to the Center for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/pertussis/about/index.html.